Tired, it’s what we are when we enter the room of strangers waiting on our arrival. We wear smiles, shake hands with jean clad pastors and their wives from around the country, pushing past exhaustion. One of them extends a hand my direction and his words, they startle me awake.

We extend pleasantries, find common ground. Learn that all of us are from Arizona, now serving in different states. He grew up in Mesa, a city known for its Mormon population, but his Dad raises him as an atheist, to prove something to the Mormon Church. And God breaks into his life as a teen, in the middle of a geometry test. Now he pastors a church in Texas.

I’m standing with my mouth open now. God reveals himself to an atheist during a geometry test? Wow.

I use tongs to put blanched green beans and asparagus spears on my glass plate, spoon curry sauce and crab cakes next to them. Stand at the granite counter in the kitchen next to the man with a mustache who led us in worship with his guitar, before we broke bread.

He tells me about the forty year history of friendship among most of the couples in the room and then he talks about his family.  He’s blindsided by his teenage son’s drug addiction, but Teen Challenge turns his life around. Then he whispers that tomorrow he and his wife will celebrate their 40th anniversary. They haven’t told the group yet.

And I’m not sure which miracle is greater:  Forty years of friendship, forty years of marriage, or radical healing from addiction.

A friend puts her arm around my shoulder, moves me to the end of her dining room table where the wives huddle in conversation. They want to know about me. Ask questions about marriage, ministry and my childhood.

These people aren’t strangers anymore.

We’re like the thief hanging on the cross next to Jesus, laying our cards on the table, admitting failures and pain in the hand life dealt. Instead of scoffing about our circumstances, we’re turning our head toward Jesus and echoing his words, “Remember Me.” (Luke 23:39-42)

Because relationship with you and with Christ, it’s born in the admonition of our failure. We’ve opened our hearts in revealing the mess strewn on the kitchen floor, finding ourselves drawn to the light shining around the table.

Jesus response?  Today you matter. And the proof is in the room. (Luke 23:43)

As we walk to the car in the dark, we hear it through the illuminated windows. The faint sound of voices singing Happy Anniversary to you . . . and I’m not tired anymore. He remembers.

An Invitation

Over the next six weeks we’ll explore answering the question, “How do you walk out your faith in the midst of pain, loneliness, disappointment, and suffering.” We’ll sit around the community table of this blog and hear stories from Tara Pohlkotte, Deidra Riggs, Danelle Landry Townsend, Darrell Vesterfelt, Kelli Woodford and others that help us see Him more clearly through our struggles. 

And . . . we’re inviting you to join us on Thursdays for Redemptions Beauty Book Club, a community discussion on the book Leaving  Church by Barbara Brown Taylor.

How can you be a part of all the fun?

Linking with Michelle, Laura, Jen, Eileen and Ann.